I haven't single handed yet, but I plan to do so extensively, once I get my boat wet...
So all my thoughts below are theoretical and research based (much through here
), and have as yet no practical testing by me. But it seems to me that a safer system would include:
- auto inflatable PFD with ORC harness - get into the habit of wearing it all the time just like seatbelts; and, depending on where you sail and how closely with others, for the PFD pockets:
- hand held and waterproof VHF;
- light for your life jacket switchable between strobe and steadily-on to make final stages of pick-up easier;
- EPIRB and or SPOT... at least they'll know reasonably accurately the location where you disappeared.
- hold down line with cam/jam cleating, for the cabin hatch boards so they don't dislodge in a knock-down and down-flood the cabin;
- high toe rails, perhaps at least two inches if possible (keeps tools on board as well as you );
- properly anchored and diagonally braced pulpit/pushpit and stanchions, (on which there was a study and several updates - by the Annapolis Naval Academy) capable of withstanding the force that one's body will impose on them after a say three foot acceleration through space;
- snaking between toe rail and lower line, pushpit to mast (see BBC video, where a man goes overboard out of the cockpit), and between toe rail and upper line forward of the mast including pulpit (I don't want to have to try and retrieve a foresail blown through the life lines... );
- handrails either side of the hatchway from cockpit onto the cabin top for safely coming 'on deck' and climbing onto cabin top for working at the mast;
- granny bars would be helpful for working at the mast, but my deck's not wide enough;
- centre line jack line(s), cockpit to mast, and mast to short of bow;
- possibly a bow to transom jackline, slack, below the toe rail, so if you do go over, you can clip onto it and wash around to the transom where you might have a chance of re-boarding if you have an accessible hoist (yes, this needs one tether attached to your Screamer (see below) that won't ever otherwise be clipped to the boat);
- nylon dock line used for jacklines, diameter determined according to length of jackline;
- jacklines to have webbing sheaths with fluorescent colour for daytime visibility, and reflective stripe and photo-luminescent for night visibility;
- jacklines not bar tight, to help reduce deceleration and especially the anchor pull-out forces;
- tethers of 1 inch tubular webbing with appropriate hooks tied onto each end with 'figure eight follow through' knots or 'overhand on a bight' knots, BUT I'm open for discussion/correction on these knots when used with webbing;
- short tethers that only allow kneeling on deck, which might change after seeing how this works;
- tethers permanently clipped onto the jackline(s) so you can clip on from inside the cabin before coming 'on deck' into the action zone, can return into the cabin before un-clipping, can be clipped on twice during the transition around the mast to go to the foredeck, won't trip over your tether below, and can always find a tether to clip-on before coming on-deck;
- as many tethers clipped on each of the jackline(s) as there are crew on board;
- Wichard or Gibb locking snap hooks on the boat end of tether, and a wire gate carabiner (more secure than a quick release snap shackle and reportedly just as easy to open under load with one hand) on the crew end;
- since UV degrades tethers and jacklines, replacement every few years - perhaps five or so - is in order;
- fall arresters (Screamers) borrowed from the climbers to decelerate movement and prevent rib cage damage from a sudden stop, permanently clipped onto the life jacket - clip the tether to the Screamer, as even just a three foot free-fall can break a rib; and most importantly
- a small sign posted on inside and outside of the hatchway warning that the lifelines are energised with 10,000 volts of electricity, and that on the other side of them is a 10,000 foot drop!
The event captured in the BBC video of the sailor going overboard
occurred after he had just unclipped
to go below! The wave that took him made it appear that he just dived overboard between the deck and lower lifeline; his arms go forward to catch his fall, and through and over he goes.... as smoothly as can be!
Scored at least 5.9 for style...
wear the PFD, and clip on at night, in fog, in 'lumpy' seas, in winds much over 10-15 knots wind speed, and when on deck alone - if you go over, wave the boat goodbye as you part company and, as 'Blondie' Hassler put it, "die like a gentleman...", especially if you decided to pee over the stern rail, in harbour, at night, while drinking! (Seriously, one hand for yourself around the back-stay, and one hand for yourself around... well you know what I mean!
Ensure that appropriate safety checks (make a 'preflight' check list for your circumstances, boat and fear level) are done seasonally and each time
before setting out to avoid the hazards described by Hartley18
Be totally paranoid about not falling off and terrified about doing so, there is no 'Twelve Step' recovery programme, falling off this
wagon is lethal and final.
And having done all that planning for the worst, hope for the best, relax, and enjoy the ride!
When we choose to go out in harm's way, not knowing or even being able to predict with any certainty
the extent of the tests that we may face, it is our responsibility to accept the consequences and therefore to have contemplated and be prepared for them as thoroughly and as reasonably possible. Doubtless there will be dissenting opinions, and I'd much enjoy hearing them...
BTW, that wave board recovery
is fantastic! Another here
But imagine trying that in rough weather conditions as in the BBC video, which is when you're most likely to have gone over... My thoughts vary from 'shark bait', to being battered to death by the board while attempting to get on it. Note the boat moving at seven knots left the MOB behind in seconds! If you're not tethered, kiss it goodbye! Even if there's a crew, if they didn't see you go over, they won't find you at all unless they spot your strobe in the dark. They'll be too many miles on before they miss you.
Just imagine how far astern you'll be in the 30 seconds it takes most MOB warning systems to alarm...
Thanks to Delmarva
for providing much very useful information about rock climbing gear that's appropriate and useful for sailors. I've climbed a little and appreciate the feeling of and high level of safety involved with the gear. None of my proposed equipment/gear is expensive!
"You start with an empty cup of experience and a full barrel of luck. The trick is to fill your cup before the barrel runs dry." - bljones